There are two kinds of advice when it comes to how to find a freelance job. One type is for people who are currently working traditional gigs and want to make the leap, the other is for those already in the freelance market looking to move on. This post is concerned with the first bunch. We’ll give some love to existing freelancers in another post.
For people still enslaved in the Land of the Cubicles, here’s some stuff you need to do to make the leap:
- Skills Inventory. Take stock of all your marketable skills, including the ones you don’t normally associate with your job. Are you a hobby photographer? Do you retouch your pics in Photoshop? That’s a marketable skill, even if you don’t try to brand yourself as a photographer. Instead, call this work “digital image manipulation” or some other out-of-the-box description. The idea is to get you thinking critically about ALL your skills, not just the ones you use 9-5.
- Re-think Your Resume. If you have your educational pedigree at the top of that thing, fix it. Impress your freelance resume readers with what you can DO, not with that stuff you managed to accomplish between hangovers and co-ed mixers.
- Position Yourself As An Expert. What was your day job? How many years did you do it? You could be an expert in any range of fields even if you can’t see that yet. A few years working for The Gap makes you qualified to write about fashion or blog about retail theft. You just don’t know how to reach in and use that specialized training yet—unless you’ve already recognized it, in which case half the battle is already over.
- Apply For GOOD Freelance Gigs. Forget those stupid, pointless freelancer sites that are full of projects you have to bid or compete on with ridiculous, lowest-bidder rates. “Want 10,000 pages by Thursday. Pay=$200.” JUST…SAY…NO. I don’t care what all the other kids are doing.
- Don’t Look In The Obvious Places. That job board that everybody goes to? It’s flooded. And so are those firms hiring freelancers from there. You’ll do much better looking off the beaten track.
- Don’t Go Full Time Until you’ve saved some walk-away money.
- Do Start Looking for freelance work while you are still at your day job. Don’t quit your day job and THEN go freelance. Go freelance first, THEN quit once you have the confidence that you have the ability to land another gig.
- Apply The Right Way. When you fire off those resumes, don’t shoot yourself in the foot with a cover letter that indicates you’re committed somewhere else–those details can come later when you’ve got them interested in you. Just apply for the gig. If that freelance gig requires you to work hours in conflict with your day job, weigh your options–do you bail on the day job if you are accepted? If so, give the day job a two week notice and be sure you tell the freelance client you need to do so. Any firm that won’t respect your rightful desire not to screw over your current employer isn’t worth your time in the first place. Be upfront with the new company, but do so when it’s appropriate–which is when they ask about your availability. Stating up front that you have a day gig could knock you out of the running before you have a chance to impress them.